Perese departure "sucks" but Naivalu a welcome addition for Reds: Petaia

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Rising Queensland star Jordan Petaia says it “sucks” to see fellow youngster Izaia Perese leave rugby for league but the blow will be softened by new addition, Sefa Naivalu.

Perese signed with the NRL’s Broncos from 2020 but was given an early release from his Reds contract this preseason.

He started training with the Broncos this week and Petaia said it was tough to see a teammate switch codes.

“It sucks seeing one of the boys heading into league but I'm sure he'll kill it and everyone’s behind him whatever he does,” he said.

“So, I'm sure he'll make the transition well.”

The departure of Perese leaving did open the door for Rebels winger Sefa Naivalu to make a move up to Ballymore, something Petaia said would be welcomed by the side.

“He's an awesome addition to the squad and I'm sure he will love it down there,” he siad.

“The boys are pretty happy to welcome him in and excited for him to come down, so I'm sure it'll be good.”

Petaia could very easily have followed a similar path to Perese, with interest from league clubs after a whirlwind season but the teenager signed a four-year extension last month to stay in Australian rugby.

Still just 18, Petaia will head into his second Super Rugby season as one of the game’s highest-rated young guns after a whirlwind debut year.

Petaia became the Reds' youngest Super Rugby debutant when he played against the Brumbies in April and went on to carve himself a regular Super Rugby spot before joining the Wallabies on Spring Tour.

Those opportunities have been invaluable for Petaia and the teen said where he had held back this year, he would have the confidence to take things up a notch in 2019.

“Yeah, I think that tour and probably the year that's gone by has definitely helped me improve and get better and given me that confidence,” he said.

“Probably this year I was a bit hesitant in my game play but probably by next year, real confidence boost and hopefully it'll help me kick off better in the start of the season.”